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Strategic by design: Iterative approaches to educational planning
Planning for Higher Education (2010)
  • Shannon M. Chance, Dublin Institute of Technology
oday’s tumultuous economic and political conditions require universities to adapt—fast. Leaders must attend to unforeseen crises, events, and opportunities in ways that align with their core missions, promote their universities’ continued existence, and help achieve disparate goals (Rowley, Lujan, and Dolence 1997). Good planning and good plans involve iteration; simple cause-and-effect thinking is no longer enough. Universities can—and frequently do—suffer when they use linear, mechanistic thinking (Presley and Leslie 1999; Rowley, Lujan, and Dolence 1998). Leaders can make too many erroneous assumptions about the future. And, when users view strategic plans as fixed road maps, they often fail to recognize the faulty assumptions that hinder their success along the way. They generally fail to harness emerging opportunities as well. To enhance outcomes, planners must ensure there are adequate resources for monitoring and adjusting plans during implementation. Those empowered to monitor outcomes and activities must fully understand the plan’s core intentions so they can effectively refine the plan as it unfolds (Allison and Kaye 2005; Holcomb 2001). Linear problem solving assumes a rational and predictable sequence of events. Models for rational decision making assume that problems are clear and well structured from the start. They require that resources and abilities be determined before designing, and they prevent the designer from introducing new possibilities that present themselves in the course of problem solving (Simon 1973). Higher education’s overtly linear, internally-oriented form of planning is more appropriately described as “long-range planning” (Presley and Leslie 1999). Long-range planning is generally more prescriptive and less adaptive than strategic planning and does not provide the mechanisms for quick, purposeful adaptation that could render change efforts more effective.
Publication Date
Citation Information
Shannon M. Chance. "Strategic by design: Iterative approaches to educational planning" Planning for Higher Education Vol. 38 Iss. 2 (2010)
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